Published on December 24th, 2013 | by Jin Hirata2
Food is Medicine: Helpful Tips for the Holiday Season
Yesterday I shared some of the most important foods for natural healing: umeboshi paste, miso, kuzu, good salt and kukicha tea. These pantry staples are good to have all year long, but especially during the holidays when we might be tempted to indulge in more decadent foods than we might regularly do. Heavy food like dairy, sweets and alcohol weigh down our systems and make it hard for our bodies and our immune system to work at its best.
In addition the the pantry staples listed in yesterday’s post, there are a few fresh produce options that you will find very beneficial this time of year.
Daikon is a very large white radish that is popular in Japanese and Korean cooking. The greens are also edible, but usually the root is found without the greens in markets. Daikon has a pungent, spicy flavor that mellows with cooking or with fermentation. It is proven to have enzymes that help our bodies digest all the major nutrients, especially fat. After eating too much fried foods, or just if you are feeling stuffed and bloated, grate some daikon (about 1 Tablespoon) into a small bowl, mix with a few drops of soy sauce and eat before bed. This helps digestion of foods tremendously, and makes you feel much better before morning.
Lest you think an apple is just something to snack on, know that apples also have great nutritional value. Like daikon, apples also helps digestion, especially when you consumed a lot of animal foods. They can also help relieve fever for kids (especially fever caused by excessive animal fat). You can eat them whole or grate them.
Ginger is famous for the digestive comfort it can provide. It can be used for ume-cho bancha tea, or simply make ginger tea yourself by slicing some fresh ginger into a mug, covering with boiling water and letting it steep for five minutes. It’s best for your body without sweeteners.
Yin and Yang Balance in our Bodies
From yin and yang energetic point of view, feeling stuffed (over eating, expansive energy), sore throat (inflammation/swelling), general fatigue and weakened immune system are all categorized as “yin- excess” condition. Colds and flu, and their common symptoms are also your body’s natural attempt to discharge “excessive yin” accumulated inside your body.
The basic solution, therefore, is applying more “yang” energy so you can create a healthy balance of yin and yang. Mineral rich foods all have yang-izing effect, such as sea salt, miso, umeboshi, soy sauce, kukicha (twig) tea, all mentioned above, and give us energy and strength. Physical exercise also creates yang energy within. If you are not feeling well enough to exercise, a nice, warm bath, sauna, or steam room will also help create beneficial heat all give you ”heat”(yang), too.
Food IS medicine
I’m from a culture where people believe (or used to believe) “food is medicine,” and this philosophy is deeply ingrained in everyday life. Growing up, when I got stomachache, for instance, my mother would give me umeboshi plum, and bam! It’s gone. Sneezing and running nose, she’d make kuzu drink (kuzu-yu) or ume sho bancha tea for me. Morning miso soup would be a bit stronger after birthday or Christmas, and pills were the last resort or only for emergency. And finally, studies and studies have proven the actual beneficial affects of these foods on our bodies in the West. It seems to me that finally modern science is catching up with our century-old tradition. So go to health food stores, instead of drug stores, and stock your kitchen with these “Must Haves” to enjoy the holiday seasons to the fullest!!
Here’s a recap of Jin’s “Kitchen Must Have” List:
In the pantry: In the Refrigerator:
- Cheap table salt (not for cooking but for baths, etc.)
- Kukicha tea
- Good quality miso & soy sauce
In the Refrigerator: